Master Your Fears

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear-not absence of fear.”–Mark Twain

I found an interesting thing when I looked up courage in the dictionary. .. ‘the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear or bravery.’

This struck me as interesting because it’s the one time I’m not sure I would agree with the dictionary. To me, courage is doing something in spite of fear, not with an absence of fear. Bravery, for example is a way of acting in our lives in a way in such that we are doing what needs to be done even if we have fear.

Brave people don’t lack fear, they act in spite of fear. I would define courage, then, as doing what needs to be done in spite of fear. That’s absolute courage. And for it to be a courageous act, it seems like there has to be an element of fear involved. If it didn’t have that element, why would we need to act courageously? If it didn’t require great resolve, if it were common place, we wouldn’t need to be brave.

Think about a time when you should have taken action but didn’t and remember what it was that prevented you from acting. Why didn’t you move forward? Really think about this for a moment.

Now think of another time when you needed to act but didn’t. Or when you didn’t act as completely as you should have. And remember why you didn’t take action that time.

Now consider the similarities between these two events. You are going to find upon consideration that there is one common denominator, at least one, and maybe more, and that commonality is that there was probably some kind of fear associated with the incident.

Now here’s the big question: what would have happened if you had gone ahead and acted despite your fear? Think through the two events again and ask yourself what would have happened. What is the absolute worst thing that could have happened had things not turned out the way you had wanted?

Go back to the first event and whatever this event was, and in this instance you chose not to act or not to act fully.

Is it possibly you might have succeeded if you had acted? How bad could your ‘worst case scenario’ outcome have really been? Would you have been fired? Would you have been told ‘no’? Would someone have cursed at you?

My next question. . . could you have lived with that outcome? I’d wager that your answer is yes. You could have absolutely lived with that worst case scenario.

Oscar Wilde once said, “One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.” What is the real life that you’re not living because of a lack of courage? Conversely, in what ways have you acted despite your fear that have changed your life for the better?